Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year "get-a-life" plan.But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth - and he's her long-lost fiancé. Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan.

I also think she was very clever in not ‘talking down’ to her YA readers.

At this point ‘Twihards’ have figured out the deeper meaning behind Edward refusing to bite Bella (until they’re married, of course). Indeed, crucial for procreation, beyond its other obvious virtues.”The smiled faded.

I had seen it floating around; sitting on the shelf at Borders and on the blogosphere.

But I never had the impulse to read it, mainly because I was thrown by the cover-art and title.

The novel is a bit of a contrast – at once dark and gothic, but with a tender romance at its centre.

The characters are vivid and wonderful, spouting witticisms while dealing with a heavy load of pertinent teen issues (and a few supernatural ones). If you can get past the schmaltzy ‘tween’ cover-art and title, you’ll discover that ‘Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side’ has a lot to offer.

I was also surprised at how mature it was, especially because I had it pegged as appealing to an 8 – 14 age bracket (based purely on title and cover-art).

In fact ‘Jessica’s Guide’ is a book that harks back to a truer vampire mythology – including the more dark and vicious blood sucking nature of a supernatural element that’s been glossed over by squeaky-clean tween romances in recent years.

Fantaskey tackles this issue head-on, while still respecting the boundaries of the YA genre. “But sharing one’s blood with another: exposing one’s most vulnerable place, where the pulse beats just below the skin, and trusting your partner to satisfy without subduing… blood can be shared as true equals.”I started reading this book thinking that Beth Fantaskey had set a very hard task for herself, writing a YA vampire book when ‘Twilight’ and Richelle Mead’s ‘Vampire Academy’ are dominating the market.

She writes some quite poignant and heated conversations between Jessica and Lucius that address the vampiric bite metaphor, rather than dance around it; A smile flitted across his lips. It makes sex seem almost insignificant by comparison. But Fantaskey’s novel holds its own in the sub-genre.

Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess.